As you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t post anything last week. That’s because I had to literally drive from the top of the nation to the bottom. Twice. Fueled by 17 hours of alone time and an unhealthy amount of Arnold Palmers/beef jerky, I managed to write down seven things I noticed on my vertical tour of ‘merica.
1) Iowa, You Gotta Work On Your Welcome
Minnesotans are so nice, they don’t even want you to have a bad experience when you leave the state. Upon hitting the state line, you’re greeted with an absolutely gorgeous farewell sign. The base is as wide as the silos that tower in the horizon, made of colorful field stone and held together with a smooth, grey mortar. Stretching ten feet into the air, the stone is interspersed with local shrubs and flowers, up kept with pristine attention to detail. Atop this throne of rustic symbolism sits a large, maple-stained wooden sign which says, “Thank you for visiting Minnesota. Please come back soon.” It is simply marvelous, and commands your attention even as you pass it by.
20 feet later, upon entering Iowa, there’s a bent metal sign with graffiti on it that says, “The citizens of Iowa welcome you.” This exquisite red carpet rollout was promptly followed up with 30 miles of road construction. I think Darth Vader at a Star Trek convention gets a better welcome then a visitor to Iowa. Get it together, Iowa.
2) Roadkill Is As Good As A Map
Roadkill is everywhere. Cars are elite hunters, and the side of a highway is like a vehicle’s own personal den, decorated with a copious amount of dead animals. What I found is, if you look at the road kill, you can actually tell where you are in the nation. When dead deer turn into dead possums, you’re getting into the Midwest. When the possums turn into dead armadillos, you’re in the South. And, when dead armadillos turn into dead bodies, you’re in an episode of Burn Notice.
3) Orange Pylons Have A Mind Of Their Own
After 1,000 miles on the road, I have a firm belief that pylons furiously and efficiently mate, spawn hundreds of babies and migrate to their final habitat of a linear path 20 feet away from each other. Don’t dispute me, because this is the only reason I can think of that justifies miles upon miles of left lanes being closed AND NO ONE WORKING ON THEM.
I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to drive 55 in a 70 for half an hour while there are cones just strewn about and no one out there doing anything. Do you think I could get away with this at my job? Just set up a myriad of cones throughout the office that eventually lead to my desk. There’d be delays and detours and people who just want to pull over and use the bathroom but can’t.
Then you’d finally get to my desk and there’d be a bent, graffitied sign that says “Welcome to Sean’s Desk.”
4) The Scenery Is Surprising
Would you believe me if I said Iowa was the most complete representation of the north-to-south United States? I know, despite my ragging on the swing state, if you drove top to bottom through Iowa you could get a pretty good idea of what the North and South look like. The top of the state is corn fields and such, and the middle to bottom is all oak trees and pastures and a whole bunch of southern stuff.
Arkansas, also surprisingly, was gorgeous. Mountains and valleys pocked with never-ending forests. It had a rustic feel to it, and I didn’t even see one Volvo. I know, I know. I was as shocked as you.
However, once you hit Oklahoma, it’s like someone played a sassy banjo riff that flipped the switch from rustic to rusty. If I had a dollar for every rusty trampoline I saw outside of a house, I’d have enough money to solely fund a horror movie to shoot in all the abandoned buildings around there.
5) The South Has A Fascination With Fireworks
There were two terms that the history books never wrote about when the South surrendered to the North. The first one was that the South would have a monopoly on diabetes and obesity. The second one is there would be a fireworks shack in every city.
No matter what town I was in, someone was always selling fireworks. Whether it was in a huge barn or the back of a truck, shit needed to ‘splode, and someone was willing to provide the service.
I did have a question, though. Would you buy fireworks from a place that claimed to have DISCOUNT FIREWORKS? What would that even entail? Fuses that were half an inch long? Crooked flight paths? Fireworks that erupted in the sky in the form of movie spoilers? 10 foot long sparklers?!
6) Bridge May Ice Signs
All in the South, there are literally signs dedicated to alerting people that bridges may indeed ice over in cold weather.
That’s cute. What do you think other states could have as signs?
Minnesota: “Sun May Shine”
Florida: “Old Country Buffets Close at 5pm”
New York: “You May Get Sworn At”
Idaho: “We Are Sad Always”
7) Throwing A Banana Is Still Fun
Do I eat bananas on a morning drive? Yes.
Do I throw them out the window so the birds eat them? Yes.
Do I look in my rear view mirror to see if a car hits and and spins out like in Mario Kart? You better believe it.